Wednesday, September 11, 2013


My very first weekend abroad I traveled to the Greek Island of Mykonos. With thirteen other friends, I took a five-hour ferry to this island paradise. Luckily, the ferry was more like a cruise ship, so I avoided any seasickness concerns.

Taking the trip so early on into the program was a perfect way to meet a lot of people in CYA and connect with the group.

As soon as we docked, hotel owners bombarded us with their offers and promotions. We chose an 8-euro hostel, which turned out to be shockingly nice. Though our individual accommodations reminded us all of old army barracks or tool sheds, the area was secure, safe, and had beautiful views. It even had its own infinity pool, restaurant, minimart, and beach with free chairs. Not too shabby for 8 euros.

We spent the weekend luxuriating in the end of summer sun and swimming in the Aegean Sea. So salty, So clear! Mykonos was the most fun introduction to the Greek Islands. I'm sure I will continue to love my weekend travels!

What really counts: Coffee and Naps

The Greek way of life is something I can really get on board with. Every day, there is a siesta period. I have no idea why they call it a siesta, as that is a Spanish word rather than a Greek word for rest time. I asked my professors, and they are equally perplexed.

The shops all shut down and you must remain quiet within your apartment. It is a little difficult to get used to the fact that I can't go down to the store to pick up some nail polish remover whenever I want, but the benefits of a nationally embraced nap time far outweigh the hassle.

The coffee: It is Strong. The national drink is called a frappe. It is literally instant coffee, whizzed up to create heavy foam on top. If you get it with milk, you are getting sweetened, condensed milk. The frappe was first invented by construction workers so that they could drink it on the job. The dust and dirt remained on top of the foam and never polluted their drinks. It gained in popularity, and is now Everywhere. I bought my own to go mug (a type specific to the drink) and the instant coffee grounds (mom, you would be so proud). Just add water and an ice cube, shake it like a martini shaker, and viola: a fully formed frappe.

To be perfectly honest, I prefer the espresso. It is bitter and strong, just the way it should be. When I order an espresso freddo (entirely in Greek, which is my latest accomplishment) it comes as three shots of espresso, ice, and, oddly, with foam on top as well. Yum.

So between the naps and the coffee I am feeling plenty energized and ready to explore Athens!

And so it begins!

Hello all! Welcome to my very first blog post, on my very first blog.

After the ten-hour flight from JFK to Athens (during which I was served at least ten in-flight meals) I made my way to customs. The Greek men in front of me in line began jubilantly singing what I can only imagine was a very patriotic song. Off to a very great start.

For a few minutes, I searched around for a CYA sign or a confident adult to shepherd me to my new home. Instead, I found a group of similarly jet lagged young adults congregated in a corner of the airport. Our leaders were late- an indicator of the differences in Greek culture that we will have to grow accustomed to. Eventually, we successfully made our way to the apartments in Pagrati, our neighborhood in Athens.

The apartments are huge, with four balconies and a spacious kitchen. The whole place is airy and big enough for my five wonderful roommates and me. The picture below is one my roommate, Marina took of one the two (!!) balconies in our bedroom. It overlooks a beautiful old, Greek Orthodox Church. I'm going to keep these short and sweet, in the hopes that it will make them less intimidating and encourage me to blog more often. More later!